Recording the Ethiopian markets soundscapes is a particularly difficult job. The sight of a white foreigner with a recorder in his hand, albeit discreetly hidden, raises a lot of attention and curiosity, consequently modifying the usual behaviour of the people in the market:
- sellers offer a trade, ask questions or stop working to observe you carefully, in silence.
- children surround you and follow you, often asking “money, money” or asking to be photographed, they call you “forenge”, seek your attention by saying “you, you”.
The person who is recording is therefore at the centre of the attention and this obviously changes the normal acoustic flow of the market.
At a market near Butajira (about 150Kms south of Addis Ababa) my presence, along with that of three other friends, attracted so much attention that we were surrounded by a crowd of about a hundred people, so much that the local police had to invite us to leave for public security reasons.